Finding My Voice
About 86 weeks ago, or thereabouts, I teased you with:
Next week: The cheapest part of my transition is still the thing I value the most.
I can only imagine that everyone has been checking in faithfully week after week to see what that thing was…
I’m sure think-tanks have been formed to postulate what could possibly be so valuable and yet so inexpensive…
Well, anyone who knows the MtF process knows that facial electrolysis, while priceless, ain’t by any means cheap…
It’s obviously not one of the many wonderful medical procedures out there that are available to us either…
It’s not a hormone or an anti-hormone.
It’s not a hair product.
It’s not a skin product.
Not, not my lip balm either.
Not a vitamin or a supplement.
It’s not a book, or a website, or a support group. Although I will give a shout-out to Andrea James’ tsroadmap.com, I would not be here without that site. And I mean I would not be here.
There was a battery-operated device involved.
And I did it while I drove to work.
But no, the device was not from Pleasure Chest or Babeland…
It was from Radio Shack.
A good ol’ trusty, CTR-112 handheld cassette recorder, with a magical high-bias cassette tape loaded into it.
What was on that tape was two musical notes from a cheesy electronic keyboard—a low “A” and a high “A,” and a few bars of me singing “Happy Birthday Mr. President” in my best Marilyn Monroe voice, and then a robotic, endless series of “vowels.”
Long– A-E-I-O-U, A-E-I-O-U, A-E-I-O-U, A-E-I-O-U (That’s Ay, as in “Hey,” Eee, as in “Eek a mouse!” Eye, as in, well, “Aye,” Oh as in, “Oh, saaay can you seeeeeee?” and You, as in Ewe, a female sheep.)
And the short—a-e-i-o-u. (That’s Aaaa as in “Baaa,” like a sheep, Eh, as in, how was the food? “Meh…” Iii as in “Ick, I don’t like that,” Ooo as in “Open up and say “Aaah”, and Uh, as in “Uh, what was I saying now?”)
Repeat—Aaaa, Eh, Iiii, Ah , Uh.
Yes, the “thing” was, and still is, my voice.
Total out-of-pocket cost: about $40. Total time: About a year of driving back and forth in stop-and-go traffic. 40 minutes there, 40 minutes back… Every day.
I guess I had also bought Melanie Anne Phillips’ VHS years before which gave me a good primer, for about $20… And Andrea James herself had given me some voice tips…
But mostly it was just me and my car and my trusty cassette recorder.
Aaaa, Eh, Iiii, Ah , Uh. Over and over again. Until I kinda sounded like a girl. A woman. That’s what the Marylin Monroe part was about.
After about a year, I finally got it.
It reminded me of learning to play lacrosse in high school. (Yes, I tried the “jock” identity for a while too…) When I finally learned how to cradle, catch and throw with that dealy, crazy stick…
As soon as I learned this, I promptly went over to my friend’s house and put a tennis ball through his garage window, and got hit in the head with a lacrosse ball about a month later–sans helmet—and really had to rethink the whole “jock” thing…
The “girl” thing, the “woman’s voice” thing, I should say, was an entirely different matter. When I finally learned how to close my epiglottis without thinking and I could do those short vowel sounds without dipping into my chest, nothing came flying at me, and nothing shattered.
Instead I was empowered. From inside me, came the voice of a woman. A pretty damn sexy voice. It sounded somewhere between my Mom’s and my friend Sarah’s, who was a Valley girl. Is it wrong to say my Mom had a sexy voice?
Anyway, literally finding my voice, at that time, was immensely important. I couldn’t afford anything else then. Pulling off this whole transition thing seemed distant and difficult.
I was still paying off debts—some school related, some family related–so I went down the list on Andrea’s website and found the thing with the smallest price tag and started there.
And in terms of “return on investment” it gives any procedure I could get a run for its money. And I’ve had the facial rebuild since then. When I get my humongous implants, even those will not garner me as much favor, and will not give me that instant ticket into femininity, into womanhood, like my voice.
As soon as I opened my mouth, even in the early days with facial hair, it was “Miss” (on good days) and “Ma’am” (on the more haggard ones).
So, if you’re having one of those “what do I do next” moments, fretting about money and time, do something cheap, craft your voice, and reap the benefits.
Aaaa, Eh, Iiii, Ah , Uh. (Repeat.)